Seeing Beauty, Part 2

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The current state of publishing has me thinking about the future.

 

It’s hard not to these days. Everywhere you look there’s another announcement of the electronic squashing print. I imagine this big trash-can-head robot stomping books into the mud and I have to set down my quill and cry a little into my ink-stained tea mug.

 

But soon I regather my strength and then I start thinking of all the cool things to come. Futurists and other people who are paid to think about such things say that in 2020 you will be able to talk to anyone with auto-translator apps in your primary devices. But that’s just the start. Computers will be inside things and inside us and not on the desk. We’ll be able to enter full-immersion VR with images downloaded directly to our retinas, augmenting and even replacing reality in various ways. We’ll be interacting with virtual personalities and relying on them for several things—news and information, entertainment and companionship.

 

And according to one cyborg brainiac currently known as Ray Kurzweil, by 2029, the fastest computers ever heard of today will be affordable for virtually everyone on the planet. Many of us will be bio-engineered in several senses, both through implants and through computer-enhanced mental and physical capabilities in the computers embedded into our everyday objects. Cellular robots will be programable to repair anything at the molecular level, reversing aging, global problems, economic vulnerabilities, climate disruptions, and every manner of decline and decay. These robots will improve our brains and body functions and also make it possible to experience others’ emotional states and their attendant physical experiences. Organs will be created and recreated from tissue within and outside the body. Human life expectancy will increase and several common diseases will disappear. New ones, especially psychological disorders will continue to proliferate. (Much of this was mentioned by Ray here, toward the end of his talk:

And all of this makes me struggle to believe there will be much more beauty and sane people around to appreciate it in the coming decades. Sure, there will be advances and technologies never before seen and they will be widely appreciated and then mostly taken for granted as usual. But will much of the real beauty beneath, behind, and all around it be missed and inadvertently destroyed, as much or more than is happening today?

 

When I think about my kids growing up in this ever-more identity-variable landscape, I easily become overwhelmed. It’s bad enough thinking how Facebook and Twitter are making our boundaries more permeable and unreliable, but it’s a plink of acid rain to the sheer suffocating volume of inescapable existential asteroids hurtling toward us just beyond our perception.

 

(Imagine people wanting to move to the space station on Mars just to get away from the disturbing technological society we’ve created on Earth. It isn’t so far fetched to consider–the sci-fi writers are all wondering why I’d even bring it up.)

 

Normally all the unknown out there would be enough to make me want to move into a well-ventilated cave and take up the piccolo, but thanks to the current publishing environment, I’m about all out of freak-out these days.

 

Where will beauty be if we can’t even find it in our current world? More than ever, we need a different kind of futurist who sees where we’re heading and is holding us to the solid source of truth, love, and beauty. So often writers get frustrated that they aren’t getting the attention they think they deserve, but the hard truth is that they haven’t really found what deserves our attention. It’s easy to look around and excuse ourselves from responsibility—plenty of garbage gets published, why not this? We can dodge and remain stubbornly focused on what we want to say.

 

But what if there’s something higher, something more universal you haven’t considered? Even in your own small story the particulars point to a bigger, broader picture. And that picture has implications for all of us. What meaning are you making of your experience for others to glean? What fuller awareness are you making possible through sharing your discoveries?

 

And what transcendent beauty are you illuminating by the light of your simple words?

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9 thoughts on “Seeing Beauty, Part 2”

  1. I think beauty is, in some ways, a choice. Not entirely subjective, but an act of personal will can occlude what others see as beautiful. As long as there is creation, there will be opportunities to be drawn out, byond ourselves, and so a place for beauty.
    How’s that for esoteric b.s.?

  2. Twitter and Facebook have replaced true community. Implanted emotions might someday replace real ones. The astounding creativity of Avatar is taking films into another realm.
    But I believe the longing for true beauty will remain and there will be a backlash where people are more thrilled to sit around a campfire with a group of intimate friends, or watch a sunset from start to finish than jump into the latest techno craze.
    Now where did I put my iPhone?

  3. I really appreciate the direction in which your questions take me. Already I notice a difference in my reading habits, my ability to concentrate and focus from earlier, when I didn’t spend as much time online as I do now. A steady barrage of virtual stimuli from earliest memory for our kids (and grandkids) is bound to make them grow up to be different people.
    If my capacities (and I would include my ability to enjoy the moment and appreciate its beauty) are changed after only limited exposure to virtual stimulus, what will the next generation be like? It’s a lab with no control group.

  4. I don’t know about you…but I don’t want to live my whole life thinking that what I see in the world, is the superior reality. I hope to stay anchored in the unseen realm, near a God who is vested in teaching me to see with eyes of faith. What does the future hold? I empower all the questions if I’m not close to God. As Bill Johnson says, The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.

  5. Susan – how right you are!
    And Mick – I love that your continual theme is to call writers higher, outside themselves, to climb the mountain of discontent and look over the edge. To see a brave new world. A world of ‘could-be’ that wreaks havoc with our current mindset yet somehow ignites an ember buried, that has long been burning in the midst of our soul – in the center of our spirit. It’s not about us. And it never has been…

  6. This is exciting times. I think there will be a frustration for those of us who are already here to try to catch to the next wave. There will be a sentimental longing for the simple and somehow there will be a market for this in the future I think. But who could afford it I wonder? I also think there will a major philosophical debate on,”is my life real or synthetic and is someone in control of it?” But what concerns me most, and what I think doesn’t “evolve” as fast as the creation process, is the destruction process. We are great at creating but no so good at destroying. What happens to all the stuff that becomes antiquated? Who’s responsible to destroy all that stuff in a responsible manner? Sounds like a the show “hoarders” will go to a whole new level. It is indeed exciting times, I’m hoping i can stay mentally young to enjoy it.

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